WACO - Texas Baptists have elected the most diverse officer panel in the 129-year history of the Annual Meeting. Kathy Hillman, messenger from Columbus Avenue Baptist Church in Waco, has been elected President, marking the second woman to hold the office. The election was held during the Monday afternoon Business Session in Chisholm Hall at the Waco Convention Center.
Additionally, René Maciel, president of Baptist Univeristy of the Américas, was elected as First Vice President and Bedalo Yirga, pastor of Ethiopian Evangelical Baptist Church in Garland, was elected Second Vice President. Maciel previously served as Second Vice President for 2014 and Yirga is the first Ethiopian to be elected as an officer for the convention.
"Texas Baptists are delighted to have this great group of elected leaders," said Dr. David Hardage, executive director. "We are a team and we are excited about working together this next year to reach the state of Texas."
Hillman, director of Baptist collections at Baylor University, has been an officer for the past two years, previously serving as First Vice President in 2014 and Second Vice President for 2013. She was nominated by Duane Brooks, pastor of Tallowood Baptist Church in Houston, for the position. Hillman ran against Ronny Marriott, pastor of First Baptist Church in Temple, and was elected with 56% of the vote.
Hillman completed undergraduate and postgraduate studies at Baylor University. She has chaired the BGCT Committee to Nominate Executive Board Members and its Committee on the Order of Business. She has also served on the BGCT Executive Board and serves on the board of directors for Paisano Baptist Encampment.
Reflecting on the Annual Meeting theme "Live the Difference," Hillman noted the importance of family mission involvement.
"Just as churches and individuals need to live the difference, so do families, beginning with small children," she said.
In her role as a lay leader in her church, working with two-year-olds, Hillman shared the importance of mission education and involvement, even at such a young age. In her new role as president, she plans to encourage more family mission involvement amongst Texas Baptists.
Maciel echoed the desire to encourage Texas Baptists to live the difference with an emphasis on the power of prayer.
"We need to spend a strong time in prayer on how to live the difference," Maciel said.Yirga noted loving each other as the body of Christ will also allow Texas Baptists to truly live the difference while seeking to impact the state for Jesus.